The Grass is Always Greener Over The Septic Field – An Argument for Modernization Over Replacement

Let’s talk a little bit about migrating off the platform. Hang on a second. What?

That’s right. Let’s talk about moving away from IBM i.

It’s been often said that the grass is always greener on the other side. I would argue that in the case of moving away from IBM i, the grass is most certainly greener over a leaking septic tank. Since the septic tank is buried below ground far from view, the lush green grass is indicative of hidden problems that will unfortunately make your new property acquisition cost far more than you thought.

What do I mean by that? I’ve made a pretty unsavory comparison.

I need to, yes pun intended, ensure my claims are backed up.

A big part of this is technical debt and how it may pertain to a traditional IBM i shop. Let’s say, for example, a customer bought a turnkey AS/400 software package to run their business back in 1988. For the last 34 years, they may have recouped their original investment many times over. Now, the business has changed. They haven’t maintained and grown their applications to keep up with said change. The company wants graphical screens, drop-down boxes, vendor support to make customizations, and an overall lower cost. So they view 34 years of change as something they can forego by simply purchasing a new application system to run their business. The “set it and forget it” mentality may have run up what appears to be an enormous amount of technical debt. This is usually where the perceived need to move to a new platform altogether comes into play.

Considering they’ve gotten their money’s worth out of a solution for the last 34 years many times over, I would argue that a business can afford to reinvest in IBM i and their traditional applications. How hard would it be to implement changes to bring application logic in line with business changes? Well, 34 years’ worth of change is darn near impossible to achieve if you build or buy. The old triangle of “you can have a solution for cheap, fast, and well-done so pick two” certainly works for any professional industry. So to purchase a solution and implement it quickly and well done, well that’s going to cost you financially. That’s the commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) type of solution. It will have to be customized heavily for your business in …

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